Pedro Alvarez back with Pirates after hitting .365 at Triple-A

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Placed on the disabled list in mid-May with a quadriceps injury and then demoted to Triple-A once healthy last month, Pedro Alvarez is back in the majors thanks to the Pirates putting outfielder Alex Presley on the DL.

Just last week manager Clint Hurdle indicated that recalling Alvarez wasn’t in the team’s immediate plans and clubhouse attendants clearing out his locker a few days ago seemingly cemented that status, but Presley’s thumb injury changed things apparently.

Alvarez has played well since the demotion, hitting .365 with three homers and a 1.048 OPS in 18 games, and his 18/12 K/BB ratio is a big improvement over both his 161/49 K/BB ratio in the majors and previous marks in the minors.

He hit just .208 with two homers and a .587 OPS in 36 games for the Pirates before the injury and Alvarez may have to impress right away in order to remain in Pittsburgh down the stretch, because Presley’s bruised thumb isn’t expected to sideline him for very long.

Dusty Baker expects Stephen Strasburg to make his next scheduled start

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Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander reportedly had trouble getting loose and it showed: he yielded a hit and three walks to the 10 batters he faced. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Strasburg had “some nerve impingement that has been alleviated.”

Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at home against the Rockies, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Strasburg was examined by doctors, who deemed him to be in good shape — enough to not warrant undergoing an MRI.

Through 20 starts, Strasburg owns a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio across 121 2/3 innings. Though the injury scare isn’t what the Nationals hoped for, he’s done well in the first year of his seven-year, $175 million contract extension.

John Lackey hit four White Sox batters today

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Cubs starter John Lackey didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the White Sox. The right-hander hit four White Sox batters over the course of five innings. He yielded just two runs, though, on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He left with a 4-2 lead.

Lackey hit Jose Abreu with one out in the first inning, then hit Abreu again in the fifth. He then hit Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada shortly thereafter. Chris Beck relieved Carlos Rodon for the White Sox in the bottom of the fifth and promptly hit Ian Happ with a fastball to lead off the frame. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale issued warnings to both benches and the beanings stopped.

So, how often do pitchers hit four batters in a game? Not that often! The last to do it was the Reds’ Josh Smith on July 4, 2015 against the Brewers. Before that, it was the Nationals’ Livan Hernandez on July 20, 2005 against the Rockies. Lackey is only the ninth pitcher to hit four batters in a game since 2000 and the 26th since 1913. The only other Cubs pitcher to do it besides Lackey was Moe Drabowsky in 1957.